This month’s recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit‘s February 2012 issue and I will always fry chicken this way now. The secret here for crispy skin is to NOT soak the chicken in buttermilk, as we see in so many recipes. Buttermilk makes the skin soft and a bit soggy whereas putting a salty rub on it overnight dries out the skin and makes it the perfect texture for crispiness when fried. Drench it in buttermilk just before frying. Personally, I keep the oven set to 350 degrees, with a cookie sheet and wire rack inside to finish off the chicken. My fried chicken is never quite cooked through, and if I fry it longer, it tends to burn. Dark meat is my personal favorite since it’s so moist and flavorful, so I’ve used all dark meat here. Feel free to replace some with chicken breasts if desired.
I have also included a cornbread recipe from Ina Garten with a few adjustments that went over fabulously!
Not only was this yummy picnic food perfect for late summer, it was also to give our co-worker Arron, visiting from Britain, a taste of some quintessentially fattening food from the States. (I heard he ate it with a fork. So mannerly…)
Skillet Fried Chicken
2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon oregano
5 chicken legs and 5 chicken thighs
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)
Whisk one tablespoon salt, two tablespoons black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg and oregano in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.
Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining one tablespoon salt, and remaining one tablespoon pepper in a 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish.
Pour oil into a 10–12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4 inch. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.
Working with one piece at a time (use one hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place five pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 12 min for thighs, legs, and breasts.
Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Cheddar Dill Cornbread
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, melted
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t overmix! Mix in two cups of the grated Cheddar and the dill, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.